A few weeks ago, I attended my cousin’s wedding in Fishers, Indiana. This was my first time going to a wedding so I was teeming with excitement, just waiting for the weekend to arrive. I watched a beautiful ceremony set at golden hour, and all I could think about was how happy I was for my cousin. After the ceremony, we ventured over to a large building for the reception dinner. I was looking up, admiring the beautiful, barn-inspired room when I overheard my other cousins having a conversation about the reception. “I can’t believe they used all of that old, traditional wedding language,” one said. “I know right, like are we in the 1950’s?” The other rhetorically questioned.
This sparked a completely new idea in my head, something I had never even thought about before. When I listened to the ceremony, I didn’t pay attention to all the specific phrases that they used. For example, “I promise to love, honor, and obey.” Only the bride has to say the “obey” part, not the husband. Also, think about the tradition of the father “giving the bride away” to the groom. Most people just see this as a beautiful moment of the father and bride walking down the aisle together. Which yes, it is, but it also signifies that a woman is always under the control of a man. As well, “Man and Wife” labels men just as they are, but women as an extension of said man. There is so much more hidden sexism through things as inconspicuous as the dress, the positioning of the groom and bride, etc.
All of these new realizations sparked a debate I had with myself: Should people change and modernize the language in their weddings? Or should people just keep things as they are, because it is tradition, after all. On one hand, it is important to fight these systematically rooted problems by creating change. But on the other hand, these are long-lasting traditions that are a part of the “perfect” wedding ideal. Personally, I will be planning on reinventing the ceremony and the language used to eliminate these sexist aspects. However, I believe this is a decision every bride should make themself. A wedding should be the spitting image of a bride’s wants and desires, so if they are happy with the traditional language, that is what they should do.
What would you do?